Don’t dally on your tax

NT News - Real Estate - - Realestate Market Place - AN­THONY KEANE

TAX time ends this week, and if you still haven’t lodged yours by now there are a few ways to avoid po­ten­tially painful penal­ties.

The Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice’s dead­line for per­sonal tax re­turns is Oc­to­ber 31, but peo­ple can get ex­ten­sions up to May 2019 if they use a tax agent.

How­ever, they must be on the agent’s books be­fore Novem­ber, says ATO as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner Kath An­der­son.

A po­ten­tially eas­ier and cheaper al­ter­na­tive is us­ing the ATO’s on­line myTax lodg­ment sys­tem, which has pre-filled data of peo­ple’s wages, de­posits, share div­i­dends and other in­come – mean­ing all many have to do is check it’s cor­rect and add any de­duc­tions.

Ms An­der­son said myTax was “quick, easy and safe” and could be com­pleted on a com­puter, tablet or smart­phone.

“Over three mil­lion peo­ple have al­ready lodged us­ing myTax this year – more than 50 per cent did their re­turn in less than 30 min­utes and 25 per cent did their re­turn in less than 15 min­utes,” she said.

Ms An­der­son said peo­ple who de­layed their tax be­cause they owed the ATO money still had the same date to pay as ev­ery­one else – Novem­ber 21. Tax spe­cial­ist and Deakin Univer­sity as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Adrian Raftery said peo­ple who were owed a re­fund were un­likely to suf­fer late lodg­ment penal­ties from the ATO.

“How­ever, if you do owe the tax­man, the ATO has the ca­pa­bil­ity to ap­ply two forms of penal­ties: a late lodg­ment penalty of $210 per month late up to five months, and in­ter­est on late pay­ment of 8.77 per cent per an­num,” Dr Raftery said.

About 84 per cent of Aus­tralians re­ceive a tax re­fund, av­er­ag­ing $2500.

Peo­ple’s Choice Credit Union spokesman Stu­art Sy­mons said peo­ple should con­sider set­ting the money aside to re­duce the fi­nan­cial pres­sures at Christ­mas. In­vest­ing in fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion was an­other way to make tax re­funds work harder, he said.

Mr Sy­mons said pay­ing down debt pro­vided breath­ing space and could de­liver a fi­nan­cial bonus.

“If you’re on top of your credit cards, then look to your home loan,” he said.

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